Climate

Conservative Media Inanely Declare Solar Power ‘Doesn’t Work’

Ah, right wing media.  Can’t live with them.  Can’t stop conservatives from being misled by them.

So President Bush had massive tax cuts for the wealthy and destroyed the economy while ballooning the deficit.  But do conservative media declare the tax cuts for the wealthy obviously don’t work?  Of course not.  In fact they call for deeper tax cuts for the rich.

And, let’s see, a bunch of Wall Street firms and banks go under, spinning the economy into a near total collapse.  But do conservative media declare unregulated capitalism doesn’t work?  Of course not.  In fact, they call  for less regulation.

Oh, but let a solar company fail, and suddenly the whole technology doesn’t work — even though thee U.S. solar industry had $1.8 billion in net exports last year.

Media Matters has the story, which is reposted below.

Conservative Media Declare That Solar Power “Doesn’t Work”

by Jill Fitzsimmons & Jocelyn Fong

When Solyndra, a California based solar panel manufacturer, announced this week that it will file for bankruptcy, conservative media outlets immediately cheered the loss as evidence that solar power doesn’t work. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, solar energy was the fastest growing industry in the United States last year. And as Climate Progress reported, “America is a net exporter of solar products … to the tune of $1.8 billion.”

Arizona-based First Solar is currently building its second U.S. factory, which will “roughly double the solar-panel maker’s U.S. production capacity,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The company is also investing in several large solar farms. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers announced in June that solar panels, which have great potential for increases in efficiency, could become most cost-effective electricity source within a decade, even challenging fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency also recently said solar generators, including both solar photovoltaic and solar-thermal plants, may produce most of the world’s electricity within 50 years.

Despite all this, conservative media claim solar power isn’t worth pursuing.

Last night on Fox Business, Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute claimed that the solar companies “are not responding to demand – they are providing something that doesn’t work.”

Fox’s Neil Cavuto hosted Steve Milloy twice this week to blast the solar industry. Milloy said that “the solar industry is leading the country … right down the toilet.” He went on to claim that:

STEVE MILLOY: Half the time solar panels don’t even work. Half the time they do work they produce expensive electricity. This is just lose, lose, lose, for America. We can’t do it here.

[…]

MILLOY: Solar panels don’t make economic sense anywhere. They are strictly a luxury item.

The next evening Milloy called Solyndra “the poster child for the disaster of green jobs and clean energy.”

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh said he didn’t understand why Solyndra had to shut down because “the sun is still there”:

RUSH LIMBAUGH: [T]he prime ingredient for a solar company is still there… the sun! The sun is still there. It may be behind clouds, but it’s still there. Wait a minute now, don’t just let this go! This is crucial! Solar power comes from the sun; the sun is still there. And yet this company shuts down because of global economic conditions? The sun is still putting out as much as it ever did. Just like in Las Vegas. And yet they can’t harness it. It’s there every day. Doesn’t cost anything – it’s just there.

As for Solyndra, experts reportedly said “a consolidation of the industry was inevitable”:

Experts said that solar energy was still among the most promising of all of the alternative energy sources, but they added that due diligence was necessary to pick the best companies. Some said a consolidation of the industry was inevitable.

“There used to be 50 car companies in this country, but very few survived,” said Bill Bathe, chief executive of U.S. Energy Services, a Minneapolis energy management company. “For consumers, this is an exciting time, but for investors, this is still a very high-risk stage. You may hit a home run or be part of the experiment that delivers no payout.”

U.S. companies are feeling the pressure from Chinese solar manufacturers, who have helped push down prices by 42 percent this year.

The New York Times reported that “much of China’s clean energy success lies in aggressive government policies that help this crucial export industry in ways most other governments do not,” including “heavily subsidized land and loans.” Those subsidies are part of a comprehensive policy agenda set by the Chinese government, which “sends clear signals to investors,” according to a Brookings Institution report:

Critical to China’s success is its articulation of a comprehensive and long-term state clean energy build out policy that sends clear signals to investors. Through its 12th Five Year Plan, China has identified “new energy” as one among seven “strategic emerging industries” and will invest $760 billion over the next 10 years in this sector alone. A range of complementary policies will guide these investment decisions, including the Renewable Energy Law, national demand-side management regulations, and pilot carbon taxes, among others. China has swiftly made itself a clean energy power, in large part by ensuring the availability of copious, affordable capital at a time it has been short in the United States.

And the Deutche Bank Climate Change Advisors said in a recent report that there’s a lot more the U.S. could do to create a policy framework that encourages clean energy investment:

Countries with more ‘TLC’ – transparency, longevity and certainty – in their climate policy frameworks will attract more investment and will build new, clean industries, technologies and jobs faster than their policy lagging counterparts. This is particularly evident in countries such as Germany and China, who have emerged as global leaders in low carbon technologies and investment in recent years.  In stark contrast, a politically divided US Congress and vast budget deficit has resulted in very little significant regulation at the Federal level, with substantial implications for emerging clean technology industries in the US. This climate policy inertia has existed for some time in the US now, with activity on this front largely taking place at the state level. We have long argued that the states must continue to press ahead with climate legislation, but a negative effect of this trend is a patchwork of inconsistent state policies.  The net effect is that while Congress stumbles, the US stands to fall behind.

— Jill Fitzsimmons & Jocelyn Fong in a Media Matters repost

13 Responses to Conservative Media Inanely Declare Solar Power ‘Doesn’t Work’

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Let’s look at the business climate for the fossil fuel industry: they never, ever go broke. This means that there is no real competition, and that anybody with enough capital can punch a hole in the ground and get rich.

    This isn’t just monopoly capitalism, it sounds suspiciously like socialism to me. Maybe Rush Limbaugh and Steve Milloy are secret communist agents, along with Vladimir Putin. They don’t want competition among themselves or other technologies, and they want the poor taxpayers to pick up the residual medical and cleanup bills.

  2. S.D. Jeffries says:

    So, does this mean that if one or more of the American car companies had been allowed to go bankrupt (which Republicans were advocating), would that mean that “cars don’t work”? Their little pea brains have no room for logic, apparently.

  3. D. P. Lubic says:

    Those same “conservative” types who are so against alternative energy and alternative transportation (i.e., rail in various forms) and are so, so positive on automobiles as the ultimate expression of personal freedom should look at the history of the automobile in this county.

    It’s my understanding that we had over 600 companies making cars in America over the years, now long reduced to three big ones with three or four divisions each. What happened to those other 600 firms? What happened to Graham-Paige, Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg, Austin, Willys, Franklin, Marmon, Hudson, Studebaker, Stutz, Norwalk (made in the town where I currently live), Alco, Milwaukee, White, Stanley, Baker, Muntz, Frazier, Nash, Packard?

    How many computer companies have come and gone since the 1970s?

    Some commentary by William Draves, who runs the LERN Institute (adult education service):

    “100 years ago it took 2,562 men, including my great grandfather, to start car companies in order to get the 3, the Big 3, to succeed. That’s just the way history happens: it takes a thousand players to get one really big success. Yes, you have to be smart and yet Gates, Jobs, etc. are smart. But so are the other couple thousand software inventors today. You have to be smart, persistent, hard working, and then (as Tim Berners Lee, the investor of the World Wide Web and the 21st century so accurately put it) – – lucky.”

    Draves’ great grandfather was one of the principle people behind the Milwaukee, which was one of those car companies that failed.

  4. dana1981 says:

    We knew this would happen as soon as the Solyndra news came out. The story is tailor made for pro-fossil fuel anti-renewable subsidy Republicans. It doesn’t matter that it’s just one solar company out of thousands. It doesn’t matter that it’s less than 2% of stimulus funds to renewables. Reality doesn’t matter to Republicans – furthering their pro-fossil fuel anti-government agenda does.

    It’s a sad state of affairs that anybody listens to these people, let alone nearly half of Americans.

  5. Todd says:

    from fuel fix, Aug. 24: “A number of Texas power plants may need to cut back operations or shut down completely if the state’s severe drought continues into the fall, an official with Texas’ main transmission manager told FuelFix.

    At least one North Texas power plant has had to reduce how much it generates because the water level in its cooling reservoir has fallen significantly, said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

    If the state’s drought continues for much longer and water levels continue falling at other power plant reservoirs, other units could be forced to curtail operations or shut-down completely, Saathoff said.

    “Right now we don’t have a significant problem with it, but it could become one,” Saathoff said in an interview. “This has been the driest 12-month stretch we’ve seen in Texas in a long time.”

  6. Todd says:

    In a sunny climate with an historical water shortage crisis that may last many, many years to come, PV is the only reasonable, realistic and viable solution. Fossil fuel and nuclear power plants that are not on the coast have no future in Texas, Arizona or Nevada where many smaller communities are now rationing water, limiting use to drinking water only (Llano, TX)! Honestly, this has nothing to do with ideology or politics, this is about survival in the near-to-long term.

  7. kurisu7885 says:

    Hmm, well, for one, to my knowledge a good few republicans come form “oil families,” meaning they have reason to keep us on fossil fuel. Plus many are perpetuating the stereotype that if you care about the environment you’re “one of them”, a liberal or a hippie, many of them can’t tell the difference.

    Plus, it’s Obama wanting to do it, and they’ll latch onto ANYTHING that makes him seem worse than Bush.

  8. Uncle B says:

    China also has new nuclear technologies, radically different technologies not just “New and Improved” 1950’s styled reactors! China has pebble bed gas reactors, up and running – Google Tsinghua University, China, see for yourself! China also has Thorium fueled CANDU reactors up and running. China has invested huge sums in the development of the U.S. proven Thorium fueled LFTR reactors, and is perfecting, refining, them as we speak! These reactors produce no humanocidal plutonium, and their waste products are safe after only three hundred years of storage! An Energy Miracle to be sure, and one that will power Bullet train networks, power their infastructures, and make possible the Daisy-Chaining of these networks and their human infrastructures, Pan-Euraisa, and only in decades. All else China does to get off of oil, away from coal, towers over U.S, achievements, and will soon swallow them up in an explosion of Scientific research by the fineset minds China can assemble, from the entire Asian gene pool, a human resource America simply doesn’t have. Solar Wave Wind Hydro, Tidal Geothermal, all depend on rare earth magnets in generators for highest efficiencies – China now restricts sales of these. America can do little to retaliate, and hasn;t even the funds to explore and develope her own? Efficient Solar cells an issue but certainly not the only one, climate change is important, but a gut wrenching paradigm shift away from the American Dream lifestyle is in order.

  9. Ziyu says:

    Solyndra’s bankruptcy is actually good news (aside from the job losses) if one thinks about it for a minute (something people never do). Market forces have their own natural selection process. Technologies that are more costly or inefficient don’t get selected. Solyndra’s approach became obsolete after silicon supply caught up with demand. Thus it went under. This is all necessary for the evolution of the solar industry into its best possible state.

  10. Pangolin says:

    How odd that conservative media isn’t saying that “free trade doesn’t work” because that’s what killed Solyndra. Solyndra was a sold company with a good technology that was killed by imports from Chinese companies that had labor costs of less than $5hr.

    It really doesn’t matter how good your product is in that environment if an importer can deliver an inferior product that does the same job for half the price.

    Of course, conservative media just might be influenced by massive advertising buy by Oil giants that run ads telling us what swell guys they are. Note they don’t have to advertise their product; there’s really little alternative to purchasing it for most people.

  11. Sime says:

    Where do you happy ferrets find these people do they have to go for some kind of special classes or something where they get hit repeatedly on the head with blunt objects?

    “Half the time solar panels don’t even work. Half the time they do work they produce expensive electricity. This is just lose, lose, lose, for America. We can’t do it here.”

    That is total and utter tosh you completely ignorant Muppet!

    So “don’t do it”, however we will do it in Europe as will the Chinese and then we will flog them to you at a nice profit and thanks very much for being so totally and utterly ignorant.

    Why don’t you call these people out, and stop being nice to them they are lying to you for goodness sake, this BS should make Americans (regardless of political affiliation) very, very angry, you are being lied to by your own media outlets… HELLO!

    For those of you who would like to learn more http://www.builditsolar.com/ as you can see in the real world solar power and alternative energy actually works very well and that is an American site and it is excellent, as are the DIY projects.

  12. Wolff says:

    Mike, if a Fox News analyst can call Warren Buffett a Socialist, who knows what any of the rest of us might be, Perhaps I’ll turn out to be a Stalinist!

  13. It is ludicrous to think that the solar industry doesn’t work when we can clearly see evidence to suggest that this isn’t true. It is justified to say that this is one of the fastest growing industries with the huge increase of solar innstalls over recent years.